My relationship with this show is ending on a note of “too little, too late,” my friends.
I’d really wanted to like this one, especially since I like both leads, and I did feel like Show had started well. To be honest, though, it’s been a slippery experience, trying to find something solid to hold onto, but still progressively losing what little grip I had, as I progressed through the episodes. I kept trying to find a lens that would make this one work for me, but to be honest, even though some lenses did help somewhat, nothing actually worked all that well.
And so it is, that I’m choosing to say goodbye to Show, 10 episodes into Show’s 16.
MY TRAJECTORY WITH THIS SHOW
After a strong couple of episodes, I found myself starting to lose interest in Show, slowly but surely, because things made so little sense to me, sometimes. The thing is, though, every time I felt thisclose to tapping out, Show would manage to pull me back in, with a great moment to do with our OTP, and I’d decide that it wasn’t time to tap out after all – at least for the time being.
STUFF I STRUGGLED WITH
1. I feel disconnected from Dong Kyung
For a good chunk of my watch, I struggled to understand Dong Kyung (Park Bo Young) as a character. So much of what she says and does just doesn’t make sense to me.
My friends at the Dramas Over Flowers podcast talked a bit about this show on an episode (which is here, if you’d like to check it out), and while they only talked about the first 4 episodes in the episode, I did find their lens helpful. My two takeaways for lens management, from the episode, were: Dong Kyung has high-functioning depression, and both she and Myul Mang (Seo In Guk) are facing existential crises.
This did help me, in that it gave me a place to file away any and all strange actions, behaviors, and non sequitur dialogue that’s written for Dong Kyung, and it also gave me a way to rationalize the general lack of depth I felt in Park Bo Young’s delivery of Dong Kyung, but.. to be honest, it only helped to soothe the discomfort to a degree. A lot of the time, I felt like Show was presenting Dong Kyung this way more because it wanted to make her appear different, quirky and interesting.
However, the more Show did this, the more disconnected I felt, from Dong Kyung.
2. Sometimes the dialogue makes no sense to me.
I’m referring to dialogue across the whole show, across characters – which means this also includes dialogue between the OTP. I know I mentioned earlier, that it was the OTP stuff that kept me engaged enough to continue, but I have to admit, sometimes, the OTP dialogue just didn’t make sense to me.
E8. I think part of the reason Show seems to want to make Dong Kyung different and interesting is to add to Myul Mang’s fascination with her, but I found this more bemusing than anything. This episode, when Myul Mang asks her what infuriated her, his not appearing, or his putting a pillow under her head, she answers that it’s his putting the pillow under her head. I’m sorry, what? I don’t get that.
She later explains (sort of) that it’s because if he was going to stay away, he should have done it right, and not left her a hint. I’m sorry, WHAT. I just find myself unable to follow this weird logic that Dong Kyung seems to favor.
3. I dislike Deity Girl
I’ve come across comments here and there, that there are viewers who actually really like Deity Girl (Jung Ji So). I’m gonna have to admit that I don’t get her appeal, y’all. In fact, when I got to episodes 7 and 8, I got really mad at her, and disliked her with a passion. 😂
Also, I have to admit that I am hugely distracted by her terrible wig. That has to be a wig, right? Coz no one should have hair that stiff, that falls so awkwardly? I couldn’t find a way to rationalize the wig, because even if she were a cancer patient losing her hair (which she isn’t; she’s a heart patient), I don’t think patients wear wigs in hospitals?
E7. I found Deity Girl very unlikable this episode, with the way that she spends so much effort rubbing Myul Mang’s face into the idea that he’s the reason Dong Kyung’s life sucks as much as it does; that he’s the reason for every wrong thing that’s happened in her life. The expression that’s akin to satisfaction that Deity Girl wears, as she rubs his face into this, is aggravating, to me.
I know that later in the episode, we get a voiceover from Deity Girl, where she says, “A child must rebel against his or her parent to grow. And love must suffer hardship to burn hotter.”
I think this is supposed to be a reveal of sorts, where a better intention is revealed, under her not very nice actions. I guess your mileage may vary with this one, and this reveal might endear Deity Girl to some viewers. It does not endear her to me, however. I mean, there just isn’t a nurturing vibe about what she does to Myul Mang, in the least. A parent might push their child to do better, but a good parent certainly wouldn’t push their child by taunting them to break their spirit?
Also, I kind of resent the idea that she’s taunting him to make him feel bad about being the source of bad things in Dong Kyung’s life, when he was created to be Doom personified. And, she’s told him that a presence like him is needed in the world. He was just being himself, being the presence that she’d said was warranted, and now, she’s making it like it was all his fault and therefore he should know his place?
E8. When Deity Gitl says that she always hopes that she’s wrong, I feel annoyed, because the way she’d been rubbing Myul Mang’s face into the idea that everything bad in Dong Kyung’s life is all his fault, had not seemed at all like she’d had any hope of being wrong, judging from her condescending expression. In fact, it’d looked like she’d been reveling in what she believed to be true. I actively dislike the fact that Deity Girl even attempts to make herself out to have good intentions.
4. The mythology feels poorly handled
I’ll admit that for a long time, I was confused by why Dong Kyung had an additional wish, and why she believed that if she doesn’t wish doom on the world, her most loved person would die, but she would live. I eventually went back to Show’s earlier episodes, to dig out the specific moments when these things are mentioned.
On the upside, Show had mentioned them, by having Myul Mang casually say both things to Dong Kyung. On the downside, this was done so fleetingly that it’s easy to miss it, and also on the downside, Show provides no real explanation for the out by which Dong Kyung might be able to live. To my eyes, these add up to rather sloppy management.
That aside, I also feel like the mythology can feel inconsistent, sometimes.
E8. I don’t like the detail that Sun Kyung is able to take Myul Mang by surprise, and actually enter Dong Kyung’s front door and manage to see how it merges seamlessly into Myul Mang’s house. This feels inconsistent with the fact that Myul Mang is more than capable of changing things in the blink of an eye. And he does change things, by making Sun Kyung fall asleep and telling him to forget everything.
This made the entire scene feel unnecessary, because if Myul Mang was going to make him forget anyway, why did we have Myul Mang and Dong Kyung entertaining Sun Kyung’s questions for as long as we did? This whole thing ended up feeling like unnecessary filler. 🙄
5. I dislike Sun Kyung
Sun Kyung basically rubs me the wrong way, consistently, especially when he starts sobbing. I’m making a mental note to avoid this actor (Da Won, for anyone who needs his name) for at least a while, because he is so weak, seriously.
Of course, it’s not just Da Won’s delivery. On paper, Sun Kyung is plenty annoying on his own. It’s just that when the poorly written character is combined with the very limited delivery, it just makes it that much harder to stomach him, when he’s on my screen.
E4. Sun Kyung’s such a bunch of contradictions, the way he keeps asking Dong Kyung for money for his one-minute passions, and then, when she gets upset at him for asking for money all the time, he gets all huffy and tells her that she doesn’t need to take care of him, because he can take care of himself. This, despite him knowing that Dong Kyung’s sacrificed a lot, in order to take care of him. The thing that makes it worse, I think, is the fact that Myul Mang is on hand to helpfully inform Dong Kyung that Sun Kyung had meant every word he said. See, now I can’t even rationalize that he’d said stuff he didn’t mean, in a fit of anger. 🤦🏻♀️
And then, I hate, like, really, REALLY hate how Sun Kyung pulls that ER prank on Dong Kyung, knowing that it would freak her out and make her worry. Just, what kind of an immature idiot is he?!? This is cruel and selfish to the nth degree, and now, I actually do want him to suffer for it.
After Dong Kyung’s doctor (Lee Seung Joon) very unprofessionally pulls Sun Kyung aside and tells him about Dong Kyung’s diagnosis and prognosis, Sun Kyung bawls his eyes out and starts resolving to be nicer to his sister, but he earns no brownie points from me, because, listen, he had to learn that his sister is DYING, before he’d stop his self-centered whiny nonsense.
6. I don’t like Hyun Kyu
I’m ambivalent at best, when it comes to Kang Tae Oh. Again, I’ve come across quite a few comments where viewers seem to like him very well, but again, I just don’t get his appeal. I didn’t care for him much at all, in Run On, and I’m sorry to say that I don’t care for him much in this show, either. Multiply that by 100, when he’s called upon to do aegyo – which, unfortunately, he is called upon to do, fairly consistently. 😬
On the writing front, I find Hyun Kyu thoughtless, lame and annoying, more often than not.
I thought he was thoughtless when he brought Sun Kyung home to the penthouse apartment, without even considering that it would potentially inconvenience Team Leader Cha (Lee Soo Hyuk), and I thought he was lame when we see in the flashback that he hadn’t even been able to send Ji Na (Shin Do Hyun) the single text that she’d asked for, even though he’d been desperate not to break up with her, and that’s how they broke up. Please. That’s really beyond the level of lameness that I’d been imagining. 🙄
Most of all, though, I particularly dislike the part in episode 9 where he tells – tells! – Ji Na to date him even if there is someone else that she likes, because he’d met her first and liked her first. Wow. That is so self-centered, I don’t even know what to say. He doesn’t seem to even consider that Ji Na herself might have a preference, and that preference might not be him.
WHAT KEPT ME GOING
1. Certain OTP Moments
I found that a “love defies all” lens helps, with trying to process this OTP relationship. That is, love defies not only all odds, but it defies all logic too. Myul Mang and Dong Kyung shouldn’t love each other, but they do; they shouldn’t be able to love each other; but they do. It did somewhat help brush off any perplexity that might come from the vague mythology, and the often odd characterization of people. Love just overcomes everything, because it does. In this drama world, anyway.
Myul Mang shouldn’t be able to feel such strong feelings for Dong Kyung – or any feelings at all, really – and yet, he just does. Dong Kyung shouldn’t be clinging so hard to Doom personified, because, I mean, he’s Doom personified, and yet, she just does. The attraction between them is too strong, and too chemical, and too overwhelming, for them to react in any other way, but be drawn back in, no matter what pulls them apart.
For the record, I do like the OTP moments that are loaded with tension, when they show up.
At the same time, I do feel like there isn’t a lot of context supporting those moments of tension. What this means is that the moment is sold to me, purely on the charisma of our actors. Any bit of emotion that I feel as a result of those moments, has nothing to do with the narrative context, and everything to do with how well Seo In Guk delivers a broody gaze, and how likable Park Bo Young is. Having said that, though, I will also say that Seo In Guk does a broody gaze excellently. 😏
..Which is how I managed to keep going with this show for 10 whole episodes, really.
Here are a handful of OTP highlights from episode 8, just for the record.
1. The idea that Myul Mang is cognizant that he just can’t seem to stay away from Dong Kyung. With the love ballad swelling in the background, while Myul Mang hugs Dong Kyung tight, as he admits what is effectively his addiction to Dong Kyung, it all comes together quite swoonily.
2. I do really like that Myul Mang lets Dong Kyung see the cherry blossoms in spring, because she says that if she’d known she was going to die, she’d have spent more time looking at them. I thought this was sweet and thoughtful, that he doesn’t want her to have regrets.
3. Myul Mang taking Dong Kyung back to that specific place, where she had her fondest memories of her family at springtime, is really touching. It’s such a precious gift, that Dong Kyung gets to see her parents again, if only for a short time. I loved this.
4. The kiss on the ferris wheel is swoony, not because of anything that Show does, but because of the chemistry between Seo In Guk and Park Bo Young. Yet, I can’t deny its swooniness, even as the love ballad swells around them.
5. I like that Myul Mang tells Dong Kyung that she should use her wish on herself instead of others. I like even more, that he tries to tell her that she doesn’t need to use her wish, to ask that he love her. I’m pretty sure that if he’d been allowed to finish articulating the thought, he would’ve said, because he already does. I like the idea of that.
I must have really liked the idea of Myul Mang getting to the point of being upfront about his feelings for Dong Kyung, because despite all that I didn’t care for this episode, I actually looked forward to see what Myul Mang does next, now that he’s ready to actually tell Dong Kyung how he feels.
2. Team Leader Cha and the love triangle among our secondary characters
Somewhere around the episode 4 or 5 mark, I realized that I found Team Leader Cha most interesting, among our characters.
I liked the firm yet casual way he navigates his dinner with his father; it’s clear that he won’t allow anyone to tell him what to do. Also, Team Leader Cha not wanting people to misunderstand the reason that he doesn’t work hard – that he doesn’t want to, not because he’s rich – strikes me as oddly principled. I’m also rather intrigued by how interested he is, in Ji Na’s success as a writer. He definitely has feelings for her, and yet, he comes across as pretty casual and firm too, in his interactions with her.
Because I felt curious to know more about Team Leader Cha, I started to feel more invested in the love triangle between him, Ji Na and Hyun Kyu as well.
Has the love triangle been satisfying to watch, up to this point? Well, no. But the promise of positive developments in Team Leader Cha’s favor, was enough to keep me mildly invested.
SAYING GOODBYE [SPOILERS]
I have to confess that it took me wayyy too long to finish watching episode 10. I think I paused at least 5 times within the first 30 minutes, because I just wasn’t feeling it. I felt extra bored and extra disconnected, while watching.
At the very end of the episode, however, we do get a breakthrough with Dong Kyung. Myul Mang tracks her down after she disappears, and with Myul Mang’s prodding, she finally breaks down and admits, through tears, that she does want to live, and she does want to be with all the people whom she loves. It’s the first direct admission we get from Dong Kyung, and it feels like she might finally be on the road to a healthier and more honest approach to life.
However, I will also say that by this time, I’m running dangerously low on goodwill, with this show. I just think that 10 whole episodes (out of a total of 16) is a lonnngg time to feel disconnected and bemused by our protagonist.
Of course, I could argue that now that I’ve finally reached an important breakthrough scene, this is the time to hang on, rather than to let go. However, this is also where Show’s prior track record comes into play.
See, up to this point, I’ve felt like fairly regularly, Show possibly has something meaningful to say, but.. at the same time, I feel like there’s a fog permeating those ideas, such that they just don’t come together easily, or at all. Show gives us bits and pieces – fragments – of what feels like the beginning of something meaningful, but then, it doesn’t feel like Show completes the thought.
I just.. don’t have enough confidence in Show, to pull it all together, and wrap this up in a manner that feels cohesive and satisfying. Which is why I’ve decided to cut my losses, and say goodbye to Show now, while I still have at least a little bit of goodwill left, towards this drama.
The next drama I’ll be covering on Patreon, in place of Doom At Your Service, is The Devil Judge. Thanks to everyone on Patreon who voted in the poll; I’ve taken a look at episode 1, and I must say, I am thoroughly intrigued! Plus, Ji Sung is as charismatic as everyone promised, heh.🤩
If you’d like to join me on the journey, you can find my Patreon page here. You can also read more about all the whats, whys, and hows of helping this blog here. Thanks for all of your support, it really means a lot to me. ❤️